We set out from a unique situation in Münster, where multidisciplinary expertise on the biology of male germ cells co-locates in the form of two major andrological and genetic institutions (Centre of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology, CeRA and Institute of Human Genetics, IHG). We have intimately interconnected the CeRA and IHG with groups working on associated phenotypesand/or basic research focussing on primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) at the Department of General Paediatrics (DGP), spermatogonial stem cells at the Max Planck Institute (MPI), and research on germ cell migration in zebrafish at the Institute for Cell Biology (ICB). The Institute of Human Genetics in Essen, contributed expertise on epigenetics and we conceived a Core Project (CP) located at the Institute of Medical Informatics (IMI) to address the bioinformatic efforts.
We established three special consultation hours for 'Unexplained Male Infertility' (CeRA), 'PCD and Infertility' (DGP), and 'Reproductive Genetics' (IHG) within the highly interconnected setting of this clinical research unit.
Furthermore, a multidisciplinary case conference with the three clinical partners of the CRU326 - CeRA, Paediatrics, and Genetics - and involving basic scientists was implemented. In these bi-monthly meetings, more than 120 patients were discussed of whom 38 were followed-up in detail because of distinct phenotypes. Remarkably, a genetic diagnosis could be assigned to almost 50% of these patients (18/38), partially in previously unknown genes.
We belong to the first who joined the Medical Faculty Münster's biobank initiative and allocated a central storage fulfilling all regulations. Currently >24.000 DNA, >5.000 semen and >3.000 testicular samples are available, resembling one of the largest repositories worldwide.Central, the philosophy of the CRU326 is to foster interactions with external reseachers and interested people across the reproductive field and beyond.
A one-day CRU326 symposium 'Reproduction and beyond' in combination with the 10th anniversary of the CeRA in 2018 was broadly attended, aiming to impart our research propositions to the public. In 2019, a 2-day 'Network Reproduction' meeting was held with >70 researchers working on both the female and male side. For 2020, several CRU326 group leaders co-organise the major 2020 event in 'Andrology' – an unprecedented conference combining meetings of the national, european and international andrological societies. Adjacent, the CRU326 spokesperson and research coordinator, Jörg Gromoll and Frank Tüttelmann, set up a 2.5-day satellite symposium on the 'Genetic Landscape of Reproductive Health' in Münster.
Complementary public relations comprise the establishment of our very own website (male-germ-cells.de), a ResearchGate profile, a Twitter account (@MaleGermCells), and public video outlets on Instagram or other channels (UKM), facilitating an open and transparent handling of our research.
In ordner to spread the topic of male infertility also with the broader public, we contributed to a number of open-access articles, including content for the UKM magazine PulsSCHLAG (2017 / 2019) or the DFG's journal "forschung" (2019).